Tag Archives: indian

Claims of Self-Described Indians Questioned

An excerpt from a lengthy Tennessean report on debate over whether the Legislature should grant state recognition to some groups as American Indians (HB2284):
There are 20,000 Tennesseans who identify themselves as American Indians, according to the 2010 census, but there are no state- or federally recognized tribes here. Cherokees and other Southeastern tribes thrived in Tennessee until President Andrew Jackson banished them to Oklahoma in 1838.
Alice Gwin Henry, 70, of Memphis said she wants one thing before she dies: acknowledgment that she’s related to Cherokee Chief Oconostota, whom she grew up knowing as her great-great-great-great-grandfather.
Henry, who claims membership in the Tanasi group, says she has approached investors about building family theme parks in East and West Tennessee featuring replica Indian villages. They’re contingent upon state recognition, she said, but she refused to reveal names of potential investors.
“I won’t ever divulge that, but many would be shocked in the state if they knew who these investors were; … these are some of the largest companies in America,” Henry said.

New Effort to Recognize Tennessee Indian Tribes Underway

A renewed effort to grant state recognition to Indian tribes in Tennessee has won approval of a House subcommittee.
The measure proposed by Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, grants recognition to three tribes – the Remnant Yuchi Nation, the Tanasi Council and the United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfeld – and allows other groups to apply with the Tennessee Native American Council for recognized status.
The council is to evaluate other groups, using criteria set forth in the bill (HB2284) and make recommendations to future General Assemblies..
Similar legislation has failed in the past and in 2010 the now-defunct Tennessee Indian Affairs Commission tried to grant recognition to six tribe. The commission’s action was declared void, however, in a lawsuit brought by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. (Note: Post from back then is HERE.)

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